Royal Mail aims to grow EV fleet 10 times over, as DPD orders 750 electric vans

Pictured: Some of the EVs already operated by Royal Mail

Royal Mail currently operates some 300 electric vehicles (EVs), so the vision marks a ten-fold increase in the size of its electric fleet. The new vehicles – the first of which will enter operation this summer – will be added to existing delivery routes and depots will receive models with load capacities ranging from 3.7m3 to 6.3m3 depending on their needs.

All Royal Mail delivery offices will need to have EV charging points fitted as part of the plan. The firm has not confirmed where the first vehicles and chargers will be based but said in a statement that it is focusing on urban areas with ultra-low emission zones and green city plans. Cities with these requirements include London, Oxford, Glasgow and Bristol, where Royal Mail already hosts 23 pure EVs.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail told edie that the company has not yet set a date by which to complete the rollout of the 3,000 new EVs. However, they expect most of the deliveries to come during this autumn and thereafter. The firm said in a statement that, aside from the emissions reduction and clean air benefits of EVs, the vehicles “also increasingly make more economic sense than diesel vehicles in the long-term”.

“Due to our feet on the street delivery model, we are the clear leader in low emissions per parcel in the UK, and electrification of our vehicle fleet will strengthen our advantage,” Royal Mail’s chief executive Simon Thompson said.

“We look forward to working with vehicle manufacturers and government to increase supply so we can accelerate our transition to EVs in the UK. It matters to our customers and it matters to us.”

Royal Mail is notably exploring alternative fuels as well as EVs. Last month, it added 29 40-tonne biogas-powered trucks to its fleet. The firm is aiming to convert entirely to EVs and alternative fuels, phasing out petrol and diesel entirely, but has not set an target date.

EVs for DPD

In related news, DPD confirmed this week that it has ordered a total of 750 electric vans from supplier Maxus, putting it on track to have more than 1,700 EVs on UK roads by the end of 2021. Maxus was formerly known as Leyland Def Vans (LDV).

The delivery giant has ordered 500 long wheelbase e DELIVER 9 vans, weighing 3.5 tonnes, and 250 of the smaller 2 DELIVER 3 model. The 88kw version of the larger model, DPD claims, can cover 200 miles on a single charge. It has also ordered some 72kw versions of the e DELIVER 9.

As of December 2020, DPD was operating some 700 EVs, surpassing a target to operate 500 by the end of the year. Other models include the P1 electric-assist cargo bike, the VN5 and the Vauxhall Vivaro e.

This article has already touched on several of the key drivers of EV adoption by businesses, including stricter climate targets, city-specific requirements on air pollution and emissions and the fact that EVs are now cheaper to operate than diesel.

But new research out this week from EO Charging proves that there is also a reputational benefit. The firm commissioned Savanta to poll 1,503 adults in the UK on their attitudes towards deliveries and EVs.

Of the respondents, almost three-quarters (73%) said they would like all of their home deliveries to be low-carbon, stating that this would be a differentiator when choosing a retailer or delivery service. More than half (51%) would be willing to pay an extra charge for a low or zero-emission delivery.

Sarah George

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